Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana, has said that it is against the federal character principle for the chairmen of the two anti-graft federal agencies to come from the same geopolitical zone.
Falana made this statement during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Monday.
He said that if the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is from the northern region, the southern region should produce the chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Both the current EFCC chairman, Mr Ola Olukoyede, and the ICPC chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), are from the South-West geopolitical zone.
Falana also said that Olukoyede is “eminently qualified” to head the EFCC, having previously served as Chief of Staff to the EFCC Chairman (2016-2018) and Secretary to the Commission (2018-2023) as well as having 22 years cognate experience.
Falana’s statement comes amid criticism of Olukoyede’s appointment by some lawyers and analysts, who say that he is not an Assistant Commissioner of Police and is therefore not qualified to lead the EFCC.
Section 2 of the EFCC Act states that the chairman of the commission shall be a person of “proven integrity who has not been convicted of any crime and who is not a member of any political party.”
It does not specify that the chairman must be an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
“There is no issue; the only issue that has been raised has to be considered by the government is that we have in this country, the Federal Character Commission Act and also by the virtue of Section 14 of the constitution, appointments must reflect Federal Character.
“If you are going to have the EFCC and the ICPC, the heads cannot come from same zone. If there are two positions in the public service, one must go to the North, one must go to the South. If there are four, two must go to the South, two must go to the North. If there are six, one must go to each geopolitical zone. That is the law in Nigeria today.
“So, I am not comfortable with the fact that the heads of the EFCC and the ICPC are from the same zone. Apart from that, Mr Ola Olukoyede, is eminently qualified to head the EFCC. My colleagues who have criticised the appointment have not looked at the relevant provisions of the EFCC which is Section 2,” He said